Meet Your Maker First Impressions

When the Internet Hype Machine started talking about Meet Your Maker I didn’t pay much attention. The sense of it I got (based mostly on headlines, I have to admit) was that it was a first person corridor shooter with a level editor included. My days of running through corridors frantically shooting are behind me, for the most part.

But then at launch it came to Playstation Plus Extra, so I figured what the heck, may as well download it and check it out. My first impression was not good. First issue, the aesthetics. Meet Your Maker’s look and feel is all grunge and grotesque. This is 100% personal preference and a lot of developers go with this vibe so it must be popular. Just not with me.

The main gameplay loop is you pick a mission from a war table in your headquarters. (The image at the top of this post is your HQ…seems like a nice place to work, right?) You get transported there and you have to make your way through a base to get a MacGuffin. Early game, at least, you are armed with a kind of crossbow that has 2 bolts (which you have to recover after shooting if you want to keep using the bow), a sword, and a grappling hook. Once you grab the MacGuffin you carry it out of the structure, teleport home and receive materials and various currencies which I’m still trying to figure out. Then you repeat the cycle.

The MacGuffin you are always after: a vial of pure DNA

The hook is that every base you raid has been created by another player. That means some of them are cakewalks and some of them are fiendish. So back to that initial bad impression. Issue #2: It so happened that I died over and over on the first base I went to. These bases are filled with both traps and enemies. Honestly more of the former than the latter in most cases. And it is 1 hit, 1 kill. Die and you restart from the ‘front door’ of the base.

In my case a) I was still learning to deal with the traps and b) the person who built this base had a devious mind. It was difficult enough that I ALMOST rage quit the game, but then I slowed down and started thinking. The bases are not randomized so each time I tried to make it through I learned more about where the traps are. Traps can be disabled by attacking them, either with bow or sword. Many only fire once so you can also trigger them and evade to get rid of them, but destroying them grants you resources.

Eventually I got through and decided that was enough of Meet Your Maker… but maybe after I try one more mission. The second base I hit was easy as pie. I knew how to deal with basic traps, and more importantly I had gotten it through my thick skull that this isn’t a base-rush game. This is a game that rewards patience and every base is more a puzzle than a corridor-shooter. I thought “I know that was going to be my last go, but I have time to try just one more mission…”

And then I was hooked.

Gross creature in a tank. It is the Chimera who orders you around in Meet Your Maker
This is the Chimera. It is your boss. I guess robots (I think you are a robot) can’t be picky when it comes to employers

I have since encountered a few bases that rival that first one, but each time after trying various techniques I finally figure out some game mechanic to deal with the challenge before me.

After running missions for an evening, the next night I had enough resources to try building my own base. The building tools, on console at least, take some time to get comfortable but they work well once you get familiar. Probably easier on a PC. Bases are assigned a maximum point value and everything you add to that base adds to that point value. You have to place a minimum number of defenses for the base to be viable, and there’s a little Harvester robot that walks in and goes to your MacGuffin and comes back out. That robot needs a viable path to its destination (which in turn means players have a viable path to it).

I didn’t have any grand plan and my base, once it was finished, wasn’t much of a challenge but I “Activated” it anyway. By the end of that night 4 players had raided the base (this doesn’t cost you anything). My base had only managed to kill 1 of them. But what is really fun is you can watch a replay of everyone who raids your base. I saw the ways players were avoiding my traps, so I went in and adjusted things. It still isn’t a very dangerous place but the process of watching players beat it, then making changes to try to trip up the next player, is pretty appealing.

The meta game here is built around earning resources to buy new kinds of traps, upgrade your gear, and buy new ‘plots’ for bases (it looks like you can have 100 bases with 10 active at any one time). I’ve barely scratched the surface of this part of the game.

The Build UI on console. The yellow dotted line is the path the Harvester bot will follow to the DNA vial

Overall I like it. The bases, at least the ones I’ve been hitting, are not very big. If there were no traps or enemies you could run through them in just a minute or two, which means you can visit a bunch in an evening (once you successfully raid a base you’re not supposed to ever see that base again).

And I am delighted to have an asymmetrical multiplayer game that, for once, rewards patience and thoughtfulness over bunny-hopping and moving as fast as possible. (Bunny-hopping and going fast may also be a viable technique, for all I know, but going slowly and observing is working well for me.)

I would love to see ‘more stuff’ to play with and I guess the developer is known for supporting their games for a long time (they made Dead By Daylight, too) so I’m hoping we see new tools and options added. I would love a ‘theme’ that is less grunge than what we have now, but until then I’ve come to terms with fighting in the filth against enemies who look like they were vat-grown in some dark lab tucked away in the corner of a fertilizer factory or something.

If you don’t have Playstation Plus Extra, Meet Your Maker is $30 (on Steam anyway) which feels like a pretty fair price.

I’ll end now with my one and only tip. If you see one of these, hit it with your sword:

Image of a tomb in Meet Your Maker
This is not just a grotesque decoration. This is a tomb. Smack it with your sword for some easy loot!

March 2023

Well, March kind of flew by, at least for me. And I’m still here, blogging a bit. Overall things are better with me. Got through that dark patch when exhaustion was really impacting my mental health. I firmly believe ditching social media and in particular stepping away from certain individuals has really helped. I had several ranting paragraphs about my issues with social media, and Mastodon in particular, in the first draft of this recap. It made me angry all over again writing it, though, and probably would’ve made me angry re-reading it at some point in the future. So I nuked it. It isn’t worth rehashing beyond saying I’m much happier without it.

Last Month’s Games

Genshin Impact once again took up a huge chunk of time for the first 3 weeks of the month. I finally got caught up on the “Archon Quests” (main story quests, basically), I completed the Battle Pass with something like 2 weeks to spare, and I hit the 300 hour mark according to the PS5. That all felt like a reason to step back for a bit to free up time to play some other games.

Pillars of Eternity (which I deemed ‘dropped last month, I guess prematurely) and The Witcher 3 are both being kept warm. I jump into both games maybe once a week just so I don’t forget how to play/where I am in them. I’m not ready to give up on either game yet!

Persona 3 Portable, however, does seem to be dropped.

New This Month

Outriders isn’t really new; I played it a good bit when it came out. I never liked it very much, but I came back to it mostly because I was nearing an Achievement and I needed an Achievement for a Microsoft Rewards quest. I was close enough to the end of the campaign that I decided to keep going so I could finish, delete and get the 100 gb or so of drive space back. The actual gameplay of Outriders is OK, but the aesthetics and the story are not my cup of tea. Like everyone else I guessed the ‘mystery’ within about the first 10 minutes of playing. I didn’t like the script, I didn’t like the voice acting, I didn’t like the character models, I didn’t like the character animations, I didn’t like the look of the gear you earned. But the combat was OK if you’re not a ‘hang back and pick ’em off one by one’ kind of player. Just out of curiosity after finishing the campaign and a couple of side quests (wanted to get to level 30 for another Achievement), I looked at the Worldslayer DLC. It is $40!! Oh hell no. $40 seems pretty expensive at launch, but this long afterwards that it is still $40 made this one an easy “delete and move on”.

The Settlers see blog post. I’m not sure I ever played again after writing that post. I went through a ton of tutorials and by the time I was done I was ready to move on! LOL It’s still just a bit too retro for my impatient old brain.

After dropping The Settlers I moved onto Age of Empires. First Age I Definitive Edition, but that, like The Settlers, felt a little too old school so I moved up to Age of Empires II Definitive Edition. It adds some QOL features like auto-scouting and patrol routes that make gameplay feel a little less fiddly. I skipped Age 3 since no one seems to like it as much as II, and then fired up Age of Empires IV, which is where I think I’ve settled, mostly because it’s the prettiest. 🙂 My only real gripe is that there’s a lot of live-service adjacent/e-sports type stuff when you first load it up. There is some kind of player level/score they pressure you to increase and I find that super off-putting, but so far I just ignore it and skip past to the solo stuff.

I tried one of the AoE games on the Xbox but nope, my brain just doesn’t like RTS with controller.

Screenshot of Age of Empires IV showing a very 1-side melee skirmish
Never tell me the odds!

Fire Emblem Three Houses — I hardly ever use my Switch and I’m semi-thinking of getting rid of it, or at least sticking it in storage or something. Before I do, there’s a couple games I bought and never played much. FE3H is one of them, even though I’ve loved earlier Fire Emblem games.  I think when I first started playing I didn’t like how much time you spent just talking to NPCs. I don’t mind that now. But what I do mind now is that the text is so small when playing in Handheld Mode. My plan was to swap the Switch for the Steam Deck for those “lying in bed” gaming sessions, but by that point in the day my eyes are too damned tired to deal with the tiny text of FE3H. I can of course play it on the TV but then it competes for time with Xbox and PS5 games. Talk about your #FirstWorldProblems, eh? But this is what knocked Persona 3 Portable out of the currently playing list.

I wasn’t planning on starting any other new games, but evil Microsoft made Marvel Midnight Suns one of their “Free Play Days” selections last weekend. I’d been interested in this game prior to launch, but once it came out it didn’t seem to make much of a splash so I kind of forgot about it. But for free? I’ll absolutely try it. And I really enjoyed it; enough so that I took advantage of a 50% off sale that was running to pick it up. Still enjoying this one quite a bit.

Midnight Suns gameplay example showing skill cards as well as super heroes arrayed for battle
Fighting some Hydra scum


We finally finished Star Trek: Voyager. Whew! Definitely not one of my favorite ST series, but we both agreed having watched Next Generation, Deep Space 9 and Voyager sequentially was a good way to be sure we were pumped for….

Picard season 3. I get that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but we love it. Keep in mind though, we love it more or less as a reunion show than as great stand-alone sci-fi. There are so many little factoids that I’m sure would’ve zipped right past us had we not watched the old shows fairly recently. Like Professor Moriarty (from Sherlock Holmes) showing up as a security system. That comes from a Next Generation episode based around a holodeck program where Moriarty becomes sentient and attempts to take control of the Enterprise. If you don’t remember that episode I’m sure you’d be “WTF”ing when the character showed up in Picard.

Finished The Last of Us and loved it. It could’ve been longer, in my opinion, but maybe less is more when there’s a story about constant fighting with other people post-apocalypse. I’m looking at YOU, The Walking Dead.

Alice in Borderland — This show was way more violent than what I’m usually comfortable with, but the mystery of what the heck is going on hooked me. It starts when 3 friends in Tokyo, trying to hide from the cops for an incident that caused a minor traffic accident, all duck into a stall in a rest room. Then the lights go out briefly. When they come out of the stall, the city is seemingly empty. But soon enough they are forced to play a series of deadly games. Where are they and how did they get there? Watch and find out. Think Hunger Games meets Lost, I guess. But a lot of graphic violence, so you’ve been warned on that front.

We’d watched Season 1 of Locke & Key back when it came out, but this month we re-watched S1 and watched all of Seasons 2 & 3. And that’s it; the series ended. I’m very happy it did because I found it to be a really dumb show, but it was her pick so I endured it. I mean, a lot of these teen-based paranormal shows have characters doing really dumb things, but this one just seemed over the top with that stuff. And if I took a shot every time a character held up a key and stared at it meaningfully (often in lieu of running away from the Big Bad), my liver would’ve given out mid-way through Season 2. There also seemed to be a lot of inconsistences within the show’s own lore, but maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention. Also in my opinion, Bode, the youngest of the Locke children, was the true villain of the show.


Finished Nemesis Games (The Expanse book….. 5?) and started Babylon’s Ashes (Book 6). The TV show version of Nemesis Games was one of my least favorite seasons of The Expanse, but I enjoyed the book a lot more. And so far, Babylon’s Ashes is a good read, too.

I’ve also gone back to Marvel comic books. I had been working my way through all the comics in order but it was just overwhelming. I started this in Sept 2021 and I was still in 1964 two years later. Initially these old comics were a hoot but the novelty was worn off. I still want to get all the origin stories but at some point before I die I want to get into an era where the art is better and the villains slightly less cheesy. (Plus I’m learning origin stories change over time anyway; like originally Thor was some dude who found a magic staff that transformed him into the God of Thunder while he held onto it.) Anyway, I’ve skipped over to the 616 Essentials Order. And it’s still a lot, to be honest.

And that’s the recap for March. Life goes on… Hope you and yours are doing well, dear reader. See you next month.

Going Retro with The Settlers

A while back I bought some of the old The Settlers games off of GOG. Tonight I finally tried to play them. Settlers 3 had some challenges under Windows 11 but the GOG community had sorted them out and I got up and running without too much bother, but this one might be a bit TOO retro for me. At first I was running it at 640×480 because I forgot that back in the day there was a separate .exe file you’d run to access things like resolution!

So I went from this:

The Settlers 3 running at 640×480

To this:

The Settlers 3 at 1024×768

Definitely an improvement. I couldn’t figure a way to run it in Windowed mode though, and it didn’t much like being Alt-Tabbed out of. There’s also, as far as I could tell, no way to zoom in/out and it just felt like a lot of the UI was going to take a bit too much brain-rewiring.

I decided to move forward a few years and try The Settlers IV which runs at a glorious 1280×1024! Which, OK, doesn’t look that much better in a blog post but when actually playing it felt a lot easier on the eyes.

The Settlers IV at 1280×1024

It also has a much nicer UI, mouse wheel support to zoom in & out (the header image is of my baker, zoomed pretty much all the way in), and most importantly a time skip button. Neither game lets you adjust game speed as far as I can tell, but Settlers 4 skips head some amount of time (10-15 seconds, maybe?) when you tap the F12 button.

I also have The Settlers: Heritage of Kings, which is effectively Settlers V, but I haven’t installed that one yet. (I bought them all as a bundle for a bit less than $6 US.)

I’m not usually a retro gamer but I guess I’ve just been feeling nostalgic for the old days when I was all about the strategy. Not sure how far I’ll go with any of this but just installing them and booting them up and watching the low-res intro videos and stuff has been oddly enjoyable. For $6 I feel like I’ve already gotten my money’s worth.

February 2023

Another short recap. The bad times I mentioned in my January recap ran into February and only in the last week or so have things really started to ease. I’m trying to appreciate the lack of crisis.

This was the month I pulled way way back on social media. I am not missing it, at least not now. I do maintain a Twitter account which I use mostly to follow games. I’ve been gradually unfollowing actual people. I deleted Mastodon, deleted Discord. I’d delete a bunch of others if I ever used them but remembering them and logging in just to try to figure out how to delete the account just seems like too much effort.

Even when work and stuff was just crushing me into a paste, I could feel this one parcel of my brain was feeling lighter thanks to avoiding the toxicity and toxic positivity of social media. The free periods I used to spend doom scrolling I’m now devoting to reading, which feels like a much better use of my time.

The one exception is Facebook, of all things, where I’ve found a small enclave of folks I’ve known for literal decades and who’re mostly content to exchange pleasantries now and then. It’s super low volume and hopping in once a day even feels like overkill. So that suits me pretty well for now. But damn is Facebook creepy. I bought a pair of windshield wiper blades from Amazon and literally within 5 minutes my Facebook feed was full of ads for wiper blades.

Anyway, on to the recap.

Last Month’s Games

Genshin Impact has been taking up like 90% of my gaming time. Still really loving it (obviously) and it’s been the perfect escapist kind of game for these trying times.

The other 10% is a bit of The Witcher 3 and a tiny slice of Persona 3 Portable which, in theory, I’m playing on the Steamdeck in bed. Except I’ve been staying up so late I tend to just collapse into sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. It’s a great fit for Steamdeck though, considering it was originally designed for a portable device.

Pillars of Eternity is, I guess, dropped.

New Games This Month



The Last of Us has been incredibly enjoyable for us. I, of course, have played the game. Angela has not. I think we both enjoy the show about the same amount.

The Bad Batch isn’t grabbing us as much as the first season did. We are in season 2, right?

Poker Face is a new kind-of detective show, I guess? It’s about a woman (played by Natasha Lyonne) who has one ‘supernatural’ ability in that she can always tell when someone is lying. But she is on the run from some bad dudes and from the cops. She keeps stumbling upon crimes and opting to solve them. We, and a lot of others, are picking up kind of a Columbo vibe.

And we’re still grinding through Star Trek Voyager. On the last season and I feel like you can just watch the writers running out of ideas/interest.

Oh and Picard S3 but that’s just barely started. So far we’re digging it.

I’ve also been watching a lot of soccer. EPL and US Women’s National Team, plus MLS just started.


Lola was having some health issues in Jan/Feb and wasn’t up to walking much, but still wanted to be outside. So I was standing around a lot, and started back on The Expanse novels, reading via the Kindle app on my phone. It feels good to be reading something again. Nemesis Games is the book I’m on.

And that’s the recap. Maybe my last recap; I’ve been thinking a lot of turning off the blog. But I won’t go into all that just now.

January 2023

The last couple weeks of January have been a hellscape for me so this month’s recap is gonna be short because my brain is just absolutely fried. And I better post this early over the weekend because I might not have time during the week.

Last Month’s Games

Genshin Impact is what I’ve been playing most. It has become, for me, that familiar comfort game that is just a way to escape from the world when you’re too wired and too tired to sleep and your brain is going 1000 RPMs and you just feel shattered and disconnected from the world. Which is how I’ve felt most of the time since mid-month. I’m back to doing some exploring and there are just some wonderful things to discover in this game. Lately it has been The Chasm which I thought was just a small area but oh boy, was I wrong. It doesn’t look that big on the map but the map doesn’t show how far down it goes. Great design. Loving it. Loving Genshin again.

The Witcher 3 is still sitting there waiting to be played and I keep saying “I’ll play that as soon as I’m done with Genshin for the day” but then I never get done.

Immortals Fenyx Rising is dropped. It just doesn’t grab me the way I need to be grabbed just now.

Final Fantasy 1 completed. Steam says I spent 23 hours in this game. About the first 8 were on PC, the rest was all on the Steam Deck, mostly playing in bed. Unpopular opinion: it wasn’t that good. At least not for me. I quickly became over-powered due to the constant random encounters I had to fight through while stumbling around lost. For the 2nd half (at least) of the game nothing could really threaten me, until I got to the last boss. There the difficulty spiked hard and I wiped a few times (first time I’d wiped in the game) until I read a guide. Beat the boss, now I can say I played it. Uninstalled and moving on.

Wasteland 3 dropped, just because the console version wasn’t great. The game itself seemed solid but the console port had some technical issues with button presses not registering, or sometimes registering twice. Or I’d think it hadn’t registered so I’d press a couple more times trying to get it ‘take’ and they’d all register at once and I’d confirm something I didn’t want to confirm. Still want to play this one, just not on console.

New Games This Month

Shapez was a random discovery that I had a good time with. Good enough to generate not just one, but two posts!

Pillars of Eternity landed on my plate this way: as mentioned I tried Wasteland 2 on console and it wasn’t great, But I really had the urge for a party based RPG. I tried the Pillars of Eternity Console Edition and it actually plays really well, but its a text-heavy game (if you dig into the lore) and I hate reading text from across the room. So then I decided to start it on Game Pass PC. Why didn’t I go back to Wasteland 3 if I was going to the PC anyway? Because I’m flighty, that’s why! Anyway I was really enjoying this until the January shit-storm landed on me; I hope to get back to it if/when things ease up.


Mythic Quest S3 ended, leaving me sad. Glad to know it has been renewed for a 4th season. This is one of my favorite shows of the past decade. I just adore it.

The Witcher: Blood Origin got so much hate and so many bad reviews but we enjoyed it. Sure it wasn’t life changing or anything, but it was a fun fantasy adventure. I mean, it has Michelle Yeoh in it. That alone makes it worth watching. It told the story of The Conjunction of Spheres in a way different from what I’d sussed out of the books I’ve read (I haven’t read them all), but that’s OK. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to be flexible about how stories are told in different mediums or at different times. A fresh, somewhat different, take on a familiar tale can be fun. Granted, younger me would shake his fist at the screen and yell “That’s not how it was in the books!” but younger me was a punk.

Star Trek Voyager still plodding along. Thank goodness they added Jeri Ryan to the cast as Seven of Nine or I dunno if we would’ve made it through. We’re late in season 6 with one more to go after this.

Willow was a big disappointment. I really enjoyed the first couple of episodes from the point of view of it being a classic “fellowship heading out on a quest” tale, and I loved the music. The first episode ended with Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” sung by an artist I’m not familiar with: Sir Jude. I was pumped after episode 1 but the show got worse and worse after that and turned into a very CW-like show. Perhaps it was popular with young people but I cared less and less about the characters as they developed. I’m really sick of teenagers in all my fantasy shows. A better show featuring Hurdy Gurdy Man is Britannia.

Doom Patrol was a hit in our house for seasons 1 & 2 but we’re in season 3 now and neither of us have a clue what is going on. Really the only reason we keep watching it is that it is SO damned weird we just want to see what comes next. But it’d be great if at some point (we’re on episode 7 of S3 at the time of writing) they pull a plot together from all the threads floating around.

I’ve also been watching a lot of YouTube. I’m finally appreciating “Let’s Play” content when I kind of want a gaming fix but I’m just too tired to play myself. Granted I tend to fall asleep while watching, but that’s OK too.


Not a thing. 🙁

So there ya go. January done, February to come. Hoping life can go back to normal soon.

Shapez Was Fun, But I May Be Done

I mentioned that I’d stumbled upon a game called Shapez over the holiday break. It was my first factory, or automation, game and I really enjoyed it for quite a while. I feel like I’ve played it a ton but Steam says it’s been less than 13 hours. Still, for as much fun as I’ve been having, it might be time to move on.

What I enjoy about the game is figuring out the layouts to make the various required shapes. Building these elaborate series of cutters and painters and mixers and layer-ers is really fun. What I don’t enjoy is then having to duplicate these “machines” over and over in order to generate the numbers of items required. For instance right now I’m on level 17, and I have to deliver 20,000 of the requested shape. I either have to just leave the game running like an ‘idle’ game, or I need to duplicate my assembly line a bunch of times.

I’m currently generating 1 of the required shapes/second, which if my math is right, means the game would have to run for about 5.5 hours to meet my goal.

Here is what I have to make:

Here is the machine I have built to make these. I can’t fit the whole thing on one screen. I’ve added arrows pointing to the finish shape rolling off the assembly line.

That’s not even the whole thing, which I have to zoom way out to show:

Now to be fair, this ‘machine’ is wildly unoptimized. Given that I’ve generated about half the required number, I’m going to assume I’ve been playing for a few hours since I built it, and I’ve learned a lot about optimizing machines since then. I could probably at least double the output but still, that’s 2 hours & 45 minutes of running time even if I’m generating 2/second. [Edit: I fired up the game to take some screenshots and in fact did quickly optimize it to 2/second.]

Thing is, now that I’ve gotten a taste of this kind of game, I kind of want to move on and try some others. I don’t really have any issues with Shapez, aside from one.

Check out this image:

In a still image you can see that there are 2 similar but different shapes running on these belts. But look at it in motion:

When the game is in motion, my poor old eyes can’t tell these shapes apart, and there is no Pause option. [Even without all the artifacting that snuck into this video.] This wasn’t an issue early on but as I’ve earned upgrades the belt speed has increased considerably to where it is now hard for me to follow what is going on. This probably isn’t an issue for most gamers (who’re generally younger than me) AND there IS a mod that adds a speed control, apparently.

But again, this ‘factory game’ world is like a brand new candy shop and I don’t want to stick to just eating grape lollipops when there are so many other flavors to try. So I think this is the end of my time with Shapez for now. The developer is trying to secure funding for Shapez 2, and if that game becomes a reality I’d definitely be back for it.

It’s really a spiffy little game and well worth playing. It’s $10 on Steam and there’s a free demo.

Razer announces Razer Edge cloud-gaming device

Razer has a new Android/Cloud gaming device coming out. At first glance, it looks like a cell phone with one of those game controller adapters clamped on, but in fact it is an Android tablet with a game controller adapter clamped on. 🙂

I think it’s pretty cool.

Logitech has a similar device and when it came out many people told me I was a FOOL for being interested in it. A FOOL! The nerve. “Just get a Steam Deck” they said (this starts at the same price, $400 US). Kidding aside, for a lot of people (maybe even most people) I would concur, but the benefit of this device, for die-hard cloud & Xbox gamers, is (presumably) longer battery life, it’s lighter (401 grams vs 669 grams), and the screen is 2400×1080 (vs 1200×800 for the Steam Deck).

I love my Steam Deck but like 90% of the time I use it as a cloud device, streaming from my gaming PC or the Xbox. I can definitely see enjoying something like this, assuming the controls are top notch. (The similar Logitech device apparently has some iffy analog sticks.)

Would I trade my Steam Deck for one of these? Nope because I have gone from a cloud gaming enthusiast to someone more cautious about it. But for someone who doesn’t have a gaming PC or a library of Steam games, but who does have Xbox Game Pass and plays a lot of Android games? Then this might be a great fit.

Heck now I’m actually thinking about watching YouTube TV in 4K on it. That would be sweet. But surely I don’t need TWO handheld gaming devices. Wait, make that 3; I keep forgetting I own a Switch.

More info on Razer’s site

Header image source:

Tiny Tech Tinkering Titillates

I might have been a bit over tired when I came up with that headline but I’m leaving it, by gum!

So a while back I bought a 2 TB SSD for the Playstation 5. Why? I have no idea. Because I’m dumb. I don’t need that much space but it was on sale. This was back last summer. Anyway I bought it, and swapped out the 1 TB that I already had in there. That 1 TB SSD has been sitting on my desk ever since.

My gaming desktop, in the meantime, has a .5 TB SSD and a 1 TB HDD. Whether it is because games just expect an SSD these days, or if the PS5 and Xbox Series X have spoiled me, loading times for games I was running off that 1 TB platter drive just seemed dreadful. Obvious solution, repurpose the 1 TB SSD that I’d pulled out of the PS5.

It could have been as simple as opening the case, plugging the drive into an available m.2 slot and be off and running. But it wasn’t that simple. My motherboard didn’t have a 2nd m.2 slot. Turns out you can get a PCI card that provides an m.2 slot so I ordered one. It came and I opened the case again and… hey wait a minute, I don’t have a PCI slot either. Well, not one that I recognized. Apparently motherboard design has changed in the maybe 15 years since I last cut my knuckles on the guts of a PC.

It turns out I had a “single lane” PCI slot, but I’d purchased a “4 lane” PCI card. Fortunately it was like $13. Back to Amazon I went and found a single lane adapter card (this one was like $8). That worked. Mounted the SSD on the card, stuck the card in, turned the system on and…. nothing.

OK let’s check the BIOS. Restarted the machine, held down DEL. No BIOS. Tried again holding F2. No BIOS. F1? Nope. F10? Nope. How the hell do I get into the BIOS? New learning opportunity. You can access it via Windows when all else fails, by using Advanced Startup in the System->Recovery options.

Finally got into the BIOS and yup, the drive is showing in the BIOS so what could be wrong… oh wait, it’s formatted for the PS5. Duh. On to the Disk Management app. This at least still looks the same as it used to look, once I remembered that it existed. Took a few minutes to format it, create a partition and assign a drive letter and voila! Now I have 1.5 TB total SSD space.

But here’s the dangerous bit… doing all this was, dare I say it? Fun. And kind of satisfying. And now I kind of want to do more. I’ve been seriously considering building a PC. I figure part of the frustration of working on a PC is that while you’re working on it, you don’t have a PC, right? But if I build a SECOND PC it should remove all that stress and frustration and it could be fun. I mean there was a time in my life where I really enjoyed tinkering in the guts of a PC. It’d be really nice to learn about all the new tech and stuff.

Really the only drawback is that everything tech-related is so damned expensive these days. Like I guess I could build a really cheap gaming PC just to build it but then what? Stick it in the closet? So I’d really want to build an upgrade to what I have (an i7-9700F @ 3.00GHz and an RTX 2070 SUPER GPU) which I’m assuming wouldn’t be cheap.

So I probably won’t do anything other than live vicariously through watching YouTube PC build videos. Maybe when I hit those lottery numbers…

Why the heck does everything have to cost money!?

Shapez, a Gentle Intro to Factory Games

A long time ago in a galaxy… well, in this galaxy actually, I was ‘strategy gamer guy.’ Before we had home computers I entertained myself playing SPI and Avalon Hill wargames (y’know, the ones with a paper hex map and cardboard chits) so I guess the transition to strategy games on computer was pretty natural for me. In fact at Strategy Plus Magazine, during my stint there, I was Associate Editor of Strategy and War Games.

Somewhere along the way, I kind of dropped my strategy things and turned into RPG guy. I guess I’ll blame MMORPGs for that but the point is, it’s been quite a while since I dabbled in strategy games. But again, now I have a Steam Deck which means on some level I’m a PC gamer again, and I’m watching a lot of “Best Games on Sale on Steam” videos and I learned there are whole new genres of strategy games, including factory games. I realize I’m the last one to learn this, but bear with me. I was finding these games intriguing but kind of daunting.

Then I learned about Shapez. Well actually I learned about Shapez 2 which is in early access, but this led me to Shapez which is a super minimalist factory game… I think. If I’m understanding what a factory game is, anyway. It’s also a puzzle game which I guess most factory games are?

Anyway, it’s pretty darned wonderful. I mean I’ve only played it for a few hours but given that it costs $2.99 US until January 5th, if I never go back to it again I’ll feel like I got my money’s worth. Also there’s a demo if you just want to give it a try for $0.00 US.

The image at the top of the post is pretty early game, this is an hour or so in.

So basically you have a “HUB” and arrayed around it are piles of various shapes. Squares, circles, stars, etc. And you are given the task to move X of shape Y into the hub via building conveyor belts. It starts really simple, but then you get tools to do things like slice shapes in half, spin them, paint them, combine them and so on. So maybe you need a 1/4 blue circle and it has to be the top right quarter of the circle. So you start with a circle, run it through a slicer, run the resulting half circles through a second slicer, maybe rotate the resulting quarter circles to get them to be top right corners, and then run that through a painter. Or maybe do the paint first, then slice it up. You figure it out!

This might be a case where a quick video is worth 1000 words. Here’s my “machine” in motion:

You can see that painting really slows things down, causing quite a few backlogs. I’m still trying to figure out a way to improve that.

While you’re achieving whatever goal has been set for you, you can also unlock upgrades, such as faster speed, via delivering other shapes to the hub.

I don’t think there’s a fail state so it’s all pretty chill. There’s no economy to worry about so you can erect and tear down conveyor belts to your heart’s content. It’s almost more a toy than a game, but I’m finding it super fun, particularly for $3. And I feel like I’m getting my feet wet so I can take on more elaborate factory games in the future.

Recommended! Oh, and if you miss the Steam Sale, the regular price is $10 which still feels like a good deal.

This is the same game state as the image above but ‘zoomed out’ to show how big the map is. Most of it is still untouched.

I Need to Stop Gaming

Ha, that title got you, didn’t it? Well it’s true but there’s a lot of context around it.

I’m on my last day of an 11 day break from work. It has been lovely, even though I’m still a little miffed that I had to use vacation time to get the time off. And I am NOT looking forward to going back tomorrow.

But I’m already digressing, so let’s table that talk about how much I hate my job and how depressed it makes me.

Over the break I did a lot of gaming (though somehow I don’t feel like I made much progress in any of my games). Thing is, there was definitely a little bit of unhealthiness in why I was playing. It was almost like I swapped in work responsibilities for gaming responsibilities. Like maybe I just wanted to take a nap, or watch TV or something. But that didn’t feel “productive” so I’d boot up a game instead.

Which, logically, is ridiculous. Gaming isn’t productive. I mean I guess if you’re a “content creator” it is, but for folks like me who game strictly as a hobby, it’s not productive and not SUPPOSED TO BE productive. It’s supposed to be relaxation and enjoyment. And if my brain is craving a marathon of old Cheers episodes instead of playing Genshin Impact, I should go and watch Cheers. But I don’t because that would be “wasting time” whereas playing Genshin isn’t (but of course it is…at least on the same level as watching TV is. I’m not sure EITHER is really wasting time if doing that activity is bringing me enjoyment).

So I need to figure out how to manage this. How to let this huge backlog of games sit and collect digital dust if what I really want to do is go down a YouTube rabbit hole or just sit out in the backyard watching Lola chase squirrels.

But the other side of this equation is that there are SO MANY games I WANT to play, and time is so very limited. I am really struggling how to balance this huge pile of games I want to experience with other things I want to (or have to) do, given a finite amount of time to do things in.

I used to be a terrible “game grazer” in that I’d flit from game to game and make little progress in any, and almost never finish a game. Then I decided this was wasteful. Of money, or of content, I couldn’t really articulate. So I started making a much more concentrated effort to finish the games I started, or at least commit to putting a significant amount of time into them so I could get the ‘full experience’ that the game offered. And for a while that make me feel better.

But maybe I’ve taken it too far. Given that new, interesting games come out all the time, there literally are not enough hours to complete all the ones I am interested in. Like maybe if the game development industry screeched to a halt TODAY and never published another game, I MIGHT have time to finish all the games I wamt to play, before I die or lose the capacity to game. Might. I’m not sure. I mean I could drop dead tomorrow or stay alive, sharp and alert for another 20 years.

So I gotta figure this out. After all I don’t owe anyone anything, and no one cares what I do. I could really quit gaming as of right now and it wouldn’t have any impact on anyone but me. So I dunno why I obsess over it like I do. Maybe it’s that I have no other hobbies and being a gamer is so much of how I self-identify? Like sometimes I wonder “People who don’t play games… what do they DO with their time?”

I also kind of think these subscription services like Game Pass and PS+ Extra might not be good for me. There are SO MANY GAMES waiting to be played with more added all the time. I might be better off if I had to purchase every game I wanted to play, since I’d think longer and harder about whether I REALLY wanted to play that game. Of course I come to this conclusion at a time when my Game Pass subscription is pre-paid into 2025!! LOL

But for sure I need to find a way to let myself watch Cheers with my free time if watching Cheers is what my brain wants to do.

By the way, I can’t remember that last time I saw an episode of Cheers; I’m not sure why I decided to use that as my example. 🙂